Each year at the season of Christmas, Italians everywhere scurry to prepare dishes that will fulfill a spot on their menu of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the traditional Christmas Eve dinner. In some families, the same dishes are prepared each year. In others, they vary somewhat from year to year. This year, we look at a dish, Florentine in origin, CALAMARI AND BEANS or as it is sometimes called, Squid and Beans.
Although the Florentines are not on a seacoast, they are no less observant of tradition, and they value dishes of the sea, as if they were a coastal city. CALAMARI AND BEANS is a traditional offering from this area and is just about perfect for any Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. It is simple in its preparation and very easy to create unlike some other dishes of its kind.
In our household – years ago – my parents, Attilio and Loretta divided some of the labor connected with this yearly feast. My father prepared the baked clams and one of the calamari dishes that was especially spicy. My mother carefully sewed the stuffed squid tubes and made the sauce for them along with 2 preparations of Baccala (Baccala Salad and Baccala Soup). They came together on some of the dishes such as the fried smelts and the cannoli shells. It was a meal that took weeks of prep.
This calamari dish takes only a few minutes and is sooo delicious especially served with crusty bread. It is made with the squid rings – easy to cut from the tubes. Some complain about their calamari being tough and chewy. I have never had that issue. Served with a crusty bread, I think you’ll find this dish is a winner!
CALAMARI AND BEANS
Serves: about 4
Prep: about 40 minutes
Cook: about 30 minutes
1 lb. Squid tubes – cleaned and cut into rings
1 15 0z. Can Cannellini Beans – rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves fresh garlic – chopped finely
1 Fennel bulb – cleaned and sliced thinly
1 Medium Onion – sliced thinly
1 Large Can (about 28 0z.) San Marzano Whole Tomatoes – crushed with your hands – better!
3 Tbsp. Chopped fresh Sage
1 Piece of Fresh Orange Peel
Dash Red Pepper Flakes
Coarse Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Clean your squid tubes and cut into rings.
Heat your oil in a pan with the garlic, onion & fennel.
Cook 5 minutes – do not burn garlic. Keep things moving in the pan to coat and so as not to overheat.
Add the squid rings and cook just 5 minutes.
Then add the tomatoes, sage, Orange peel, Red Pepper Flakes, salt & pepper.. I like to crush my tomatoes with my clean hands as this gives them the perfect consistency and doesn’t over process them.
Cook over a moderately high heat to reduce the liquid, stirring occasionally. for about 30 minutes.
Add the beans and cook a couple of minutes more until heated through. Remove the orange peel. Check for seasoning and add if needed.
Serve as is with fresh sage or fennel fronds for garnish.
CALAMARI AND BEANS just screams for crusty bread – So feed the beast and serve it! OOOOO this is good!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography